When Ohio State quarterback Braxton Miller went down with a season-ending shoulder injury last fall, my first thoughts weren’t about how the Buckeyes would do without him during the 2014 season, but how good they would be with him coming back in 2015.
Heading into the 2014 campaign, Miller was to be the senior leader of the team and was a Heisman hopeful. What he was able to do with the talent he had around him in his first three seasons as the signal caller was quite impressive.
Play-calling from coaches, the lack of talent at wide receiver and multiple turnovers that were out of Miller’s control led to missed opportunities. And that was just in the 2013 Big Ten Championship game against Michigan State.
Last year’s OSU team wasn’t supposed to be as good as they were without Miller; they definitely weren’t supposed to win it all. With a year of young players getting a chance to develop, such as wide receivers and the offensive line, things couldn’t look better for the 2015 team.
You get your best player back on the field and everyone else around him — who once slowed him down — all had the chance to improve. And boy, did they ever.
Miller is currently rehabbing his shoulder after surgery to repair a torn labrum, so for me to say he should be the starter at this moment would be foolish, but if he is 100 percent healthy by the first game, I believe there is no better option.
He has gone against and beat out redshirt-sophomore J.T. Barrett and redshirt-junior Cardale Jones consistently and I don’t think the experience they gained is enough to take the starting job — although you couldn’t ask for better experience. Miller hasn’t gotten any worse and I don’t think it would be wise to sit him out before he is given the chance to lose the job on his own.
Before the Big Ten tile game in which OSU beat Wisconsin, 59-0, Jones didn’t appear to be very good. We knew he had an arm and could run, but every time we saw him get reps or in a spring game, he was unimpressive to say the least. They say practice makes perfect, but I’m not convinced that a year of second-team reps all of a sudden made him a better quarterback and player than Miller.
Not to mention Jones couldn’t beat out Barrett for the job when Miller went down, so although what he did in the final three games of last season was pure greatness and he will forever hold a place in my heart as a fan, I would bet he comes back down to earth during a full season of constant hits and maybe after the defense lets him down a little.
Barrett is a guy that has all the mechanics, but lacks the “wow” factor. He can manage the offense very well, but when it’s time to go out and win a game for his team, I believe he lacks that instinct. At this time he would be better suited watching another year of the explosiveness Miller brings on every play.
The younger quarterbacks will only benefit from another year of developing, and as the more experienced man, Miller should be the one starting in the fall.
Either way, OSU should have no problem running the table in the Big Ten with whomever coach Urban Meyer chooses to be the signal caller. Although with Miller, games might be over a little faster.